Home
Welcome
Gro Like A Pro
News Letters
Recipes
Just Ask Stan
Stan Responds
Tips 'n Tidbits
Links
Contact Us
   

 

"Info Notes" is our "What's Up, Stan!" Newsletter.
To get on our mailing list, please send us an email below.

Simply type SUBSCRIBE in the body of the email.....then send!

Click Here to Sign Up!

 

INDEX - 2001
January - Newsletter #1
- THE NEW MILLENIUM
Feb/Mar - Newsletter #2
- PRELUDE TO SPRING
May/Jun - Newsletter #3
- THE WAY IT IS
Sep/Oct - Newsletter #4
- FALLS PROFIT
Nov/.Dec - Newsletter #5
- WHAT'S IN IS WHAT'S BEEN

INDEX - 2002
January - Newsletter #6 - GETTING THERE CAN BE FRAUGHT WITH SUCCESS
February - Newsletter #7
- SMOKING THEM OUT
March - Newsletter #8
- ACTION BEGETS REACTION
April - Newsletter #9 - NAMESAKE REALITY
May - Newsletter #10 - NOT A VERY MERRY MONTH OF MAY

Summer - Newsletter #11 - SUMMER NOTES 2002
Sept/Oct - Newsletter #12 - BEWARE THE FATES
Nov/Dec/Jan - Newsletter #13 -GETTING BACK ON TRACK

INDEX - 2003
February - Newsletter #14 - ON TRACK



THE NEW MILLENIUM
From the January 2001 - Newsletter #1


Welcome to the New Year, and our first Info Notes of the millennium.

How fortunate we are to avail ourselves to the immediacy of a technology that in its complexity is simple enough for us to communicate, using print or pictures, by but pressing a send button.

The ancient Sumarians, who lived between the rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates, were first to recognize the importance of growing crops to maintain a healthful and thriving community. Records dating back to 9000 B.C. have established the facts that cross pollination, data of growth management, and storage of seasonal food crops has predicated the advancement of horticulture to our time.

I believe that, in this new year, we will see introductions from more home-based, or cottage industries, unique local products of horticultural value. Whether innovative hardware used for pruning or garden chores, packaged organic soil additives, production of specific ornamental plants or a diversity of home and yard ornamentals, the interest and viability for our industry can only become more fulfilling.

You may be interested in our endeavors here at the property - just east of Chipman. Besides hosting the 'What's Up' radio phone-in, we are currently involved in completing a steel and polycarbonate covered greenhouse. This greenhouse will be the focus for two related functions.

Although the building materials are 'high tech', the procedures used to grow the crops will be based on 'low tech'. We will utilize minimal powered support systems, ie: forced air heating and water pressure, but by venting and zoning temperatures without automation, thus resorting to the logistics of a heritage-based greenhouse.

The first retail crop of plants will be a cross-section of current introductions and heirloom flower and vegetable selections. Understanding your crops, means spending more time maintaining them.

Following the spring sales of the bedding plants, we will be installing a vapor system to use when vegetative cuttings of trees and shrubs are taken, then rooted and potted into individual containers. Our overwintered seeds of various trees and shrubs will be ready to transplant, then grown on under shade outdoors.

If you are interested in learning to 'Grow Like a Pro' see complete details at the end of these info notes.

The 3 1/2 hours course will cover various procedures related to greenhouse growing, and if any or all of the topics listed will benefit your desire to 'learn by doing' - let us know.

If you wish to specialize in a topic(s) please advise me, and I'll make sure we cover your request as best as possible. Note: Landscaping is not included in these sessions.

Besides these horticultural-related commitments, I will be offering very unusual pieces for your home and garden decor. Historically correct and researched history of the Celtic and Gothic art will be displayed on our web pages in a few weeks and if interested in the production of this very specialized procedure, I would be pleased to 'walk' you through the development process.


'Grow Like a Pro' For greenhouse plants, containers, annuals, perennials and nursery stock.

Phyto Feature: 'The Hows and Whys of Seeding'
with annual bedding plant calendar

Amorphia: more tips and tidbits ie: orchids, narcissus, seed germination, colorful campfires.

As diverse as horticulture is, there are always new and innovative ideas that will further cause interest and broaden our horizons.

Info notes, I understand, should be short and to the point, so will close by passing on my best wishes to you for 2001.

Take care...



PRELUDE TO SPRING
From the February/March 2001 - Newsletter #2


For many people, spring's sign of arrival is determined by the first sighting of a scampering gopher on an open field, or of its residue upon the highway.

I find however, my best indicator of a spring soon due, comes with the activity of prising the first peat moss bale from the icy build-up amongst the 'pro-mix' bales-in-waiting, then man handling it onto a greenhouse bench to begin its thaw. Like the first presentation of the awaited ice wine of 2000, another indicator of winters waning is confirmed.

To own and operate ones own greenhouse is as confounding as it is satisfying. I believe there is no substitute that rivals the experience of entering your greenhouse during negative double digit outdoor temperatures, then be warmed by the sun through the glass, acrylic or poly covering.

While in this refuge from reality, mythos time rules. Historically, the first important procedure before plant production begins, would be preparing the seeding and potting mix for the ornamentals and vegetables so carefully selected from the wish-list of garden catalogues.

The pomp and pageantry that will accompany the votive opening of the first peat moss bag, heralds the impending early scattering of seeds for our summer color, and tomatoe horn worms.

The standard mix that most growers use for initial seeding or transplant mix will vary in measure, but seldom in content.

A growers personal choice of blended organics may be as intricate as dependable pre-mixed commercial blends are diametrically uncomplicated.

It is not uncommon that some growers still guard with persistence their own recipe for the 'magic mix'.

This mindset can be traced to the early 1920's when the local gardener or greenhouse owner in the neighborhood was almost as fanatical about protecting the seeding mix recipe as the variety and combinations of tobacco that would be stuffed into still smoldering bowls of brier pipes.

I rather think that 'the good old days' are better remembered than prolonged. We have a available to us, a selection of excellent combinations of soilless mixes formulated to be used for seeding, transplanting, potting, or as a base to add your own organic substitutions or perceived improvements to plant growth.

The time is almost at hand to begin potting your seedlings or cuttings, and will continue well into April.

Know your plants optimum growth requirements while in the greenhouse:

Hint: - hot sun: plants used for long stem cut flowers.

  • part shade: plants with large flat leaves, and bicolor of leaves.
  • mostly shade: large flat leaves without bicolor.

Cross venting your plants is important and accomplished by moving the interior warm air out, and bringing the outdoor in from opposed side wall vents. Whether electric fans or convection currents, your stock will thrive.

The question of 'what is the best fertilizer' is a personal preference. So many packaged combinations, so many contradictory opinions. There are more difficulties with fertilizers due to improper mixing than improper choice of product.

Plants require three important additives to the soilless mix for continued health and longevity. Fertilizer is blended with a percentage of active ingredients.

Nitrogen: is always the first number on the package and supplies the necessary chlorophyl, or the greening of the plant.

Phosphorus: is second and represents the active ingredient that promotes rooting.

Potash: the third number, and a natural rock material. When added to the media of soilless mix, strengthens the cellular growth, builds the immune system of the plant and among other necessary attributes, supplies the plant with an extended 'keeping quality' that is important when over wintering ornamentals and vegetable root crops.

We are custodians of living breathing dependants. Their health and welfare is up to the owner of these satisfying hobby or business specimens. Remember to:

plan - organize - control - and evaluate your production procedures.

Web site: www.whatsupstan.com

'NEW' for March 2001

Phyto Feature: 'Propagation of Geraniums' - concise but descriptive information on the 'how to' of geranium cuttings.

Also read about 'Natures Packaging of a Rooting Aid'

Amorphia (tips and tidbits): Learn about 'Natural Disease Control', enzymes, growing of ivy geraniums, fuchsia, oedema, and 'what are cordons?'

GOOD GROWING!



THE WAY IT IS
From the May/June 2001 - Newsletter #3


This year has been one of the very few, that afforded us an easy transition from snow boots to sandals.

Because of the marginal accumulation of snow, our early thaw was one without snow melt to drench into the root zones of trees, shrubs, perennials and turf.

Evergreens are showing draught signs: faded leaves, loss of needles and the crispy crunch test when handled. Little can be done to resume healthy growth or encourage new bud development. Unlikely, extra or excessive water to these plants will make up for the loss of over-wintering root zone moisture.

Perennials that were not mulched or otherwise put to bed with adequate water may need replacing. Your native stock of trees and shrubs are tough, but may also need a deep root watering.

Deep root watering usually means an application of 30 gallons for each seven year or more tree, during the next week or so. For our hardy native shrubs, half the water amount given in two-day intervals to equal the total fifteen gallons.

We are experiencing the greatest stress for awakening plants - WIND!!

Stress caused by excessive wind is universal and affects both plant and animal, by producing a loss of moisture through leaves that the root system cannot compensate for, or with we people animals, causing aches and pains in joints or head and can psychologically hinder our well being.

Reviewing my diaries, I find that this year of 2001, since mid March to date, has seen the windiest months since the late 1970's. Out here in the Chipman area, we have not had a concurrent three day reprieve from constant to gusty winds lasting daily and continuing into the evening and sometimes all night.

It's bad enough to have environmental pressure thrust upon ones self, but we seem to thrive and survive, with a self-inflicted form of stress that provokes loss of diet, or may develop a nervous twitch, some mild liver failure or limited dexterity can occur. Sleepless nights and guaranteed social deprivation is common.

Latent temper bursts without warning, cause family aloofness, or a noticeable temporary memory loss or attention span is a given. So to what common source are these maladies attributed? Own and operate a commercial greenhouse!

We are entering the season of a fulfillment that began as seed or cuttings during the month of December.

Plants grown with care and experience are being groomed for that mythical and magic time when all things to grow are to be ceremoniously interred. There is nothing magical about the 24th of May, but just a convenient time for a spring long weekend. That plants be subjected to the earth is correct, but in seed form, not heavy with bloom, direct from environmentally controlled greenhouses where they have already lapsed half of their productive time.

It is the promotional and advertising hype that has secured these three days as the arbitrary correct horticultural planting dates! Of course, plants can and are being sold and maintained by the customer until suitable conditions are present in your immediate location, and do thrive with little or no set-back.

Beyond the Edmonton area however, conditions are vastly hostile to begin planting established annual ornamentals.

When manager of the horticultural section for the Edmonton Parks and Recreation, no bedding plant in pac or pot left the greenhouses before the first weekend in June. This extra week or two after the 24th of May gave the crews time to deep dig the ornamental beds, add slow release nitrogen and phosphorus prills and deep water. Grooming, or raking the beds was done a day prior to planting.

While many home owners were busy replacing plants from frost in May, our beds never needed replacement - good timing - good management!

NOW - speaking of good timing! There is a new presence in the greenhouse industry, 10 miles east of Elk Island Park, between highways 16 and 15 on the north /south Range Road of 182.

We are calling it 'ZONE 3 GROWERS'

Our weather conditions here in Lamont County warrant a selection of plants that are able to survive and thrive. Annuals and perennials are all grown as cool crops then hardened off, in the extremes of our location. Cold nights, wind, hot sun and arid conditions will be nothing less than 'home' for these plants. Perennials that are native, or introductions that can adapt to your location. ZONE 3 says it all!

Potted seedling shrubs and rooted cuttings will be available during the early summer.

KALYNA COUNTRY - Take a Lamont County break - we look forward to your visit...

Until then -

Take care,



FALLS PROFIT
From the September/October 2001 - Newsletter #4


Unlike the ancient Celts who celebrated this most important season of Samhain by lighting huge bale/bonfires atop the highest of hillocs in their region to drive the impending darkness back during the autumnal equinox; they were also celebrating the belief that barriers of man and the supernatural were lowered. Thus began the dark days of harvests completion.

Those were the days! Yes indeed! Those were the days of one basic inconvertible fact: no food, no hope of surviving the harsh winters for the family unit or their live stock.

If but not for the sumarians who first grew produce between the Euphrates and Tigress Rivers some 10,000 years ago, and before the pyramids, we never would have known that garlic stored in olive oil and in the larder, keeps better, is more tasteful and less apt to pass on botulism: or that turnips kept in the larder overnight are easier to peel and section. Before boiling, don't forget to sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar per turnip into the pot while mashing them.

Central Alberta and northwards to the Peace River Country is well known for the early frosts that damages or kills annual plants and tender vegetable crops. There is a fine line between picking apples, pears, or grapes before a mild frost that sets their sugar content, or with a feeling of apprehension, leaving the fruit on the tree at all, knowing full well that in Alberta, the first frost could be a killing or damaging frost to all above ground crops.

Know your immediate microclimate. The zone maps can only be relied upon for temperature averages and therein can be only a guide to qualify optimum historic charted weather patterns.

Our fall does not necessarily portend a completion of horticultural or arboraculture activities. There is plenty of time to plant bulbs, add new perennials, divide existing perennials and relocate to increase the visual and companion allelopathy between neighboring plants or amongst themselves.

Note: Allelopathy is the natural method by which plants compete or compliment each other.

Lawn seeding or soding can continue to freeze-up. Containerized nursery stock can be successfully planted, existing trees or shrubs can be moved and planted until freeze-up.

Watering is important to insure successful over wintering. From now until freeze-up, established trees and shrubs could be watered with up to 30 gallons, and well established evergreens up to 100 gallons of water per tree. Deciduous trees need not have the volume that evergreens require, but within 40 or 50 gallons until freeze-up.

Coming Soon! Changes and updates to our web site: www.whatsupstan.com

Also, e-mailing Stan with your questions will be easier, just click on the 'Ask Stan' button on the left menu. A new feature, 'Stan Reply's' will answer those questions on-line.


What's happening at ZONE 3 GROWERS:

We are currently planning and planting our Perennial Gardens Phase I that will feature numerous sample varieties of perennials that will thrive in zone 3. Watch our web site for photo updates of our progress.

We have available now...suitable hardy plant stock for hedging and windbreaks:

Cotoneaster, Green Ash, Laurel Leaf Willow, Tower Poplar

Well rooted with heights of 24"to 30" in one liter containers at $4.00 each.

 How to find Zone 3 Growers:

If you are travelling on highway 15 from Fort Saskatachewan, Lamont areas and beyond:

We are located 3 miles east of Chipman on Range Road 182 and 2 miles south of highway 15.

If you are travelling from Mundare, Vegreville areas and beyond:

We are located 3 miles west of Hilliard on Range Road 182 between highway's 15 and 16.

From Edmonton travel on highway 16 east:

From the east boundary of Elk Island Park, just where the Ukrainian Village begins, travel 10 miles east to Range Road 182 and 5 miles north of highway 16.

(note: you will cross secondary highway 834 which connects Chipman and Tofield.) go 4 miles beyond to RR 182.)

Our Hours are: Monday to Saturday - 10 AM to 6 PM

Sunday - NOON to 6 PM

If evening is more suitable, e-mail us at: growing@whatsupstan.com

Or, leave you phone number at (780) 363-2140 for arrangements.

Don't forget to water your evergreens and early spring flowering shrubs.

 

Take Care,



WHATS IN IS WHATS BIN
From the November/December 2001 - Newsletter #5


As you may know, a recent study of peoples spare time activities has indicated that all facets of gardening is top of the list, exceeding golf, and that other favorite past time...painting the house.

There is no lack of informative gardening magazines that have earned the coveted center- shelf position in the box stores, specialty bookstores and garden centers.

Thankfully the all too many, and never ending cook books, have been allocated to bottom shelves and there, have to compete with stamp and door knob collectors.

Not many years ago, the only contact with spring in January would arrive by mail accompanied by the Eaton's and Simpson Sears catalogues. The once yearly local seed catalogue from Pike Seeds, The Seed Center and Stokes Seeds from the east, would always be a welcome reminder that springs renewal was but a few blizzards away, and the waist deep snow drifts and minus thirties, would soon succumb to the distant thaws of April.

Horticultural soft cover publications and their information, was solid and basic. The very earliest of these earthy compendiums, had few, if any illustrations. Any that were included, would be an artists conception to illustrate hard goods like hose ends, called wands or roses, garden spades, wheeled barrows, and dibbers used to transfer the plants into pots or garden soils from the seed flats. Mechanical hand operated grass seed spreaders, the three tined Dutch hoe was always a favorite, and of course the artistic renderings of the flowers or vegetables of the named seed pacs, would surely guarantee a hasty mail order return.

These early seed pacs were a definite art form, and soon became as popular as the seeds the pac contained. ['pac' is a horticultural term for package ].

Advancing a few generations from the serious pulp pages of the early seed catalogues, the innovation of the color and glossy horticultural publications began to be distributed by many seed companies, hoping to interest and inform the ever increasing home hobbyist gardener.

The more common and time proven seed variety of plants popular during the forties, fifties and sixties, began to decline in favor of the new introductions of hybridized flowers and vegetables.

So many casual and serious growers, so many diverse locations and so many micro-climates.

The recent presentations and advancement of most engineered (hybridized) ornamentals, have one very important omission in their chromosome factor: simply, the ability to adapt to the myriad of environmental conditions that our prairie provinces are guaranteed to deliver.

Passive, and committed growers are expanding their horticultural horizons by recognizing the almost untapped concept of cast off hard goods.

What gardening based magazine that you last saw, does not have an old wheeled barrow, a discarded water bucket, perhaps some broken or well used gardening tools as the focal point of the photo lay-out?

Photos of weathered barn boards used for fencing and elderly iron gates are always favored as the focal and literary subjects of gardening décor.

Your imagination is limitless when planning a concept or theme garden. The use of antique or replications of statuary, formed with concrete or terra cotta, adds a feature that plants alone cannot duplicate.

A weathered post anchored into the ground and perhaps seven or eight feet high, could have wooden pegs drilled into the post to hang old tools like spades, garden forks, trowels and even your old rain coat. This simple elevated statement, using a 'tool post' is reminiscent of the gardeners means of being prepared, by organizing the tools used daily and easily available.

Well used and discarded ladders set against a wall to support vines like clematis, virginia creepers, hops or even pole beans are unique and a productive addition to the theme of gardening nostalgia.

Old used metal watering cans are in! An original English Haws watering can, in almost any condition will fetch upwards to four hundred dollars. Posters from the twenties of garden seeds or hard goods advertising a known or obscure horticultural company may go for two or three hundred dollars.

Tour the garage sales, the junque shops, the back alleys, the auction sales. Barter with your neighbors, your friends, their friends. No limits.

There is no more diverse activity, to which you can introduce almost anything to accent your growing ideas, as the hobby of horticulture.

During the following months, I will endeavor to keep you informed of our progress here with Zone 3 Growers.

Our objective, is to develop a commercial center, that will promote and encourage an interest in the selection of plant goods and the procedure necessary to promote their growth and productive ability.

It is imperative that we not forget our own heritage plants, and their contribution to the industry of horticulture and arboriculture. Many of the newer introductions of plants to the market, have as their under stock, an Alberta hardy root system. Our native perennial flowers are increasingly being the recognized base for hybridized stock, and available to the consumer, as 'new and improved' cultivars.

We are currently finishing a series of planted beds featuring the hardiest of perennials. Combination planting with perennials and an alpine area depicts suitable plant varieties that thrive in 'Zone 3' conditions.

An arbor of fifty feet in length and eight wide, has been completed, and will be planted with virginia creepers to begin their journey upon a wire mesh support.

Because we have chosen not to install county power, we have ready, a fifty-five foot wind mill tower and intend to erect it with a wind power electric generating unit. This unit will charge twelve volt batteries, to which an inverter will boost the power to 110 volts, allowing a squirrel cage fan to inflate the double poly covering on the greenhouse and will power a small vent fan.

Because we are growing as it used to be, our utilities are at a minimum. Solar power will supply twelve volts of power to a battery, then to twelve volt water pumps.

We will soon have a compendium of digital photos to illustrate our activities that demonstrates procedures relative to printed topics.

Underestimating or dismissing our own available native plant material, can be a heritage lost.

Develop your interest and ingenuity, using our natural gems to compliment your plantscape with purpose and imagination.

Please note:

  • Re: www.whatsupstan.com the 'what's up' page now has 'Stan Responds' on the menu. Just click there, and locate all the questions I have answered to date. Do check them over before you e-mail me to make certain your concerns have not yet been answered. This segment will be updated regularly.
  • The 'Recipe Cupboard' has all the recipes I've oft-time mentioned. Divided into 3 groups: Recipe Ideas from the garden, Novelty Recipes, and Seasonal Treats.

Enjoy the seasons activities, and wish you all a successful and productive New Years.


GETTING THERE CAN BE FRAUGHT WITH SUCCESS
From the January 2002 - Newsletter #6


The weeks relentless advance towards the increasing daylight, seemingly gathers speed, while collecting exponential duties that are required for successful procedures, important to the success of ornamental and garden crops.

JANUARY - The days of January serve two purposes, be-fitting its Roman namesake.
Janus is a Roman deity, seen as two faces in profile; one looking backwards, the other facing the opposite direction. Janus views the retreating darkness, and at the same time the opposing face; the advancing light of spring.

This deity is a 'Janus-form' head.

Ed Note: some literature misrepresents Janus as two heads on one body, thus wrongly labeling Janus as a polycephalous.

Luckily, Caesar beheld the difference, as the first month of the new year, could just as well been named Polycephalary.

On with the Info Notes:
What begets success in growing, is a plan of procedure that limits mistakes and their difficulty to rectify. Any regimen of procedure that will accomplish desired results, will present problems to over-come. Having a plan as simple as notes on the calendar - or a spread sheet of detailed tasks will aid in, and remind you of the chronological steps necessary from seed to satisfaction.

January is a month of dismally cold weather, but an important time to begin the tasks that are important to we growers.

Shop your horticultural catalogues for plant varieties, and list them by name and distributor.

Have an idea of what plant varieties you would like to grow, and how many of each.

List your choices in alphabetical order, as the catalogues, and local stores display them on the seed racks.
Annual/perennial/bi-annual and tree or shrub seeds, when sold in pacs, will indicate the approximate count of seed in each pac, or the number of seed by weight, in each pac.

Recommended seeding dates are also being included for indoor greenhouse or direct seeding into the gardens.
With the knowledge of seeds per-pac, you can easily plan your 'growing needs'. Shop as soon as the seeds are available, as the best selection will quickly diminish, and you may have to resort to alternative, but similar varieties.

As you gather your seed, keep the perennials in the fridge, and in order of seeding dates. Trees and shrub seeds and bi-annuals can be treated as perennials.

Many 'home growers' are using the professional size bales of pre-mixed, and blended mix for seeding and transplanting. 'Pro-mix' number three or four is the choice of many growers, and now available at most garden, greenhouse, nursery centers.

For the advanced grower, or an avid adventurist, January is a month of new beginnings, and in order of seeding or cuttings for spring/summer flowering, these following plants can be seeded or vegetatively propagated:

Azaleas, hydrangea.
Hardwood cuttings of junipers, roses and vines.
First seeding of perennials.
Annuals to be pinched for March.
Gloxinia seeding.
Begin tuberous begonias from tubers.
First geranium and fuchsia cuttings.

Note: When seeding perennials, begin their journey to germination in a mix of 1/3 each peat, perlite, and sand (or fine gravel crush). No bottom heat until seed husks begin to break open. Cutting material and tubers can begin in perlite with bottom heat.

Preparation for continued growing of seed and rooted cuttings can save time and stress, if all containers are washed and sorted to receive their respective specimens.

Have soilless mixes prepared, and the area sanitized with a general and thorough cleaning to hamper any pests or disease. Your 'keeper' plants, whether for cuttings or as permanent indoor dwellers could be inspected for insects or disease, and treated forthwith.

January in Alberta is synonymous with below freezing temps and winds, but greenhouse building and procedures continue. Our Zone 3 Growers facility is expanding to include informal ornamental beds planted with a cross-section of very hardy perennials and shrubs.

A gazebo of unique design and function will display samples of sub alpine perennials featuring a 12 volt solar-powered circulation water pump. Our 50 foot arbor is complete and ready to be a focal point for your choice of potted perennials and vines.

Most unique to our greenhouses, will be wind generated power atop a forty-five foot windmill tower. The power generated from the wind will be transferred from 12 volts, to an inverter that will provide enough 110 volt power to operate necessary mechanics.

I believe there is a need and interest for innovative ideas and unique applications, to both structure, operation and enjoyment of horticulture, and hope our Zone 3 Growers will aid in this transition from 'ho-hum', to new horizons.

Horticulture is an ever-changing activity, and so to our web site www.whatsupstan.com will be taking on a change, a more informative 'new look' and we will keep you posted.

Good Growing


SMOKING THEM OUT
From the February 2002 - Newsletter #7


February - the second month of the year, containing in ordinary years, 28 days; and in the bissextile or leap year, 29 days.

February: from the Latin word "to smoke" since it is the time of year to fumigate or more broadly, to purify.
This activity was not specific to the Romans, as ritual burnings by some ancient tribes of Celts were known to scourge crop lands of weeds and pests ready for annual seeding of food crops. By Druid law, in flaming pits, the cleansing also included the burning to death, of captive Out landers and slaves no longer useful.

Today, the origination of fumigation may be unknown to some, or forgotten by others; but is however, a quite necessary procedure to consider before seeding or taking cuttings so susceptible to damaging pests or disease.
In a working or growing area that will be used to promote growth, and can be restricted by confining the fumigates, is a proven and successful procedure.

When fumigating, using smoke, gas, or pressurized active ingredients, all surfaces of contents that may harbour bugs or potential disease organisms, will be engulfed, and left with a residual of pesticide that deters subsequent infection.

'Smoke bombs' that are used by professional growers are extremely poisonous, and not available to the domestic market. There are however, alternative fumigants that the domestic grower may use, with very satisfactory results.

Doctor Doom has 3 sizes of fumigators, each applicable to a variety of spatial requirements. There are as well, 'home remedy' ingredients, that when left to smolder in metal containers, do very well in killing active insect pests. Dry leaves and stems of Absinthe or Artemisia Silver King or Silver Mound is well known and easily available. Dry leaves of the Canna Lily are almost equally toxic, and they too easily obtainable.

Before using any fumigant, early evening is best, as all the pests are at home, and not foraging out of the control area. Do not water your plants any later than 4 hours before application. All doors, vents or other escape holes need to be closed before fumigation. Do not enter the room until the following morning, and immediately open doors, and vents to 'freshen' the room.

There are a few plants that may show signs of leaf damage: ferns, jade plants and kalanchoe should be removed before fumigation.

Fumigants seldom control disease, but if hard goods including paths, benches, on top as well as underneath, rafters, side wall supports, concrete and sand, gravel or concrete walks or floors can be sprayed with an Agricultural product called creolin.

February harolds serious seeding. Hardy perennials begun the first or second week of February, will be potted into 4" pots for greenhouse or nursery sales, ten weeks from the seed date.

If for a few varieties of early seeded perennials, Cushion spurge, Baby's Breath, Armeria, Delphinium, Platycodon, Chrysanthemum, Arabis, and Myosotes, can be direct seeded into 4"x4" square pots and grown on in cool bright conditions.

Seriously consider the seeding of living ground covers. The necessity of live ground covers is becoming not only of ornamental interest, but of a necessity to retain soil moisture and healthier sub-soil micro-life.

These perennials are hardy to zone 3a and when planted as companions to annuals, trees and shrubs, or as focal point landscape designs that can represent sub alpine zones, prairie, marsh and forest low-growth.

Perennial ground-cover plants:

Allysum Saxatile, Arabis Alpina, Arenaria Sandwort, Armeria Thrift, Aster Alpina,
Aubrietia Rock Cress,
Bellis Daisy, Bergenia Cordifolia,
Campanula Bell Flowers, Cerastium Snow in Summer,
Dianthus Deltoides,
Euphorbia Cushion Spurge,
Iberis Candytuft,
Myosotis Forget-Me-Not,
Physalis Chinese Lantern,
Saponaria Soapwort, Sedum, Sweet William.

The above list of low growing hardy perennials are quite available on the seed racks in most of the greenhouses and garden centres. For most home growers, there are enough seeds in each pack to grow useful and attractive ground covers.

Our Zone 3 Growers are in the midst of seeding upwards to 50 Zone 3 perennials, and will begin potting these starters in 4" pots ready for spring/summer sales.

Grow cool, Grow clean, Grow well.

 


ACTION BEGETS REACTION
March 2002 - Info Notes #8


MARCH - 1st named Imbolic by the ancient Celts as the coming of light, then named Mars by the Romans for their God of War. Mars, also referred to as the red planet, and fourth from our sun. March is the only named month that orders action!

The Romans named the month well, as March is perceived as the unkindness month of the year. Clashing combative weather systems are frequent and often terrible in ferocity and ominous power.

Through this month, we growers are at the cusp of pre-spring activity, by summarily interrupting the dormancy of seeds and hastening the pre-natural rooting of vegetative cuttings.

This is the month that tests the growers ability to control the greenhouse support systems, or other structures that require constant environmental controls that are appropriate for plant life.

We rely on electricity and a safe water supply, but when these vital utilities fail, our back-up systems must be employed. Truly a balancing act between natural elements and our experience.

We trust our suppliers of plant stock and seeds. We trust the packaged fertilizers that are so important for prolonged plant growth to fruit or flower.
We gain information, substance and knowledge from literature and other growers knowledge.

Sometimes compounding, often contradictory, we all seem to muddle along solving the daily problems, and averting, with professional aplomb, most horticultural crisis, but always enjoying the successes.

We here at ZONE 3 GROWERS have decided to become self sufficient. Our 'well' can produce enough water for our needs. Power to electrify water pumps, lights, and heater motors will be generated by wind.

The final stages of preparing, and installation of the generator is at hand.
Completion of a third greenhouse, is weeks away, with only the application of poly carbonate panels to the sides and roof.

Geranium cuttings are ready to pot. Nepeta cuttings will be rooted in 4 weeks.
Space is at a premium. Hanging 12" pots are to be planted with ivy geraniums that thrive in morning sun, and afternoon to evening shade.

Our ZONE 3 GROWERS, will be supplying hardy, well grown annuals and perennials ready to transplant into your pot, planters and beds; proving their hardiness in your yard.Our web site has a great 'new look'.

Visit www.whatsupstan.com and take a peek!

You will be impressed.

Grow Cool, Grow Clean, Grow Well,


NAME SAKE REALITY
From April 2002 - Newsletter #9



Whatever ancient or other-tongue society, being Avril, Aprilis, or Aphrodite, the fourth month of our year 2002 is proving her Roman namesake.

APRIL: Given to fits of ill temper, peevishness, irritability, saucy, forward, capricious, and insular.
"We need the moisture", rationalizes our complete frustrated disappointment and tickoffedness. Our recent weather is more like the winter doldrums than the sighting of the daffodils.

Always the eternal optimists, we cope, we forgive, we overcome by projecting fruitful interim preparative duties. Yea - right !

Procrastination is jolted into productive energies, with the first two days that struggle to a single digit, to above freezing solid.

Guy stuff includes locating the lawn mower and roto-tiller from squatting over an ever deepening puddle of leaking oil that has already penetrated into the wood floor of the garden shed or concrete pad of the garage.

Job I: Sprinkle horticultural perlite or vermiculite over the oil to absorb the oil, then discard.

Job II: Collect all the hand tools that may need sharpening, and at the same time brush their wood handles with linseed oil to help preserve the wood.

Job III: Empty your hanging pots and other portable containers of soil or soilless mix. Add to the volume, a soil amendment like 'Iron Bull' or some such packaged organic, to boost the fertility of the entire mix for healthier and more productive plants.

Job IV: Grafting can take place; pruning and shaping done. Shovel snow between duties.
Our Zone 3 Greenhouses are in the midst of becoming productive, and with much interest in our novel ideas and procedures in growing dependable hardy plants. We look forward to your visits by mid May, and into the planting season of June.

As the blowing and drifting snow succumbs to greening of the home turf, I am including, with permission from the author, the following horticultural epiphany:

"I stopped fertilizing my lawn back in 1986ish-knowing that today's fertilizers were leaching into our water system. The first year - my lawn looked like it was going to die. It was, as I knew it would, look bad cuz of its dependence from previous owners on fertilizer. The 2nd and third years (my husband and I nearly divorced over it) it looked ratty and thin. But I did not pick up the cuttings, I kept up the deep root watered and prayed the neighbors would start to talk to me again. But, by the 4th year - it was apparent that I won. It stayed green longer than my neighbors in the fall - theirs turned yellow and the green heathly patch was on my yard. AND in spring- it was green first and thick. The better it got, the less weeds, clover and dandylions (spelling) appeared. I still have to get after the dandylions but all in all, with good watering and removal of thatch every other year - my lawn is in excellent shape and there is not much to do. Love your show when I get up in time to listen to it on Sunday's.

Good growing - L. A. (Spruce Grove)"
With my compliments to the author,
Stay Tuned.

 


NOT A VERY MERRY MONTH OF MAY
From May 2002 - Newsletter #10


MAY - 5th month of the year, and named after the Roman goddess of growth, MAIA
No other month, since the sectioning of the 364 1/2 days that make up our calendar year, holds the promise of things to be green and growing.

The culture of we North Americans, include time honored festivities that can be traced rearward to the early ironage. Some we still celebrate, albeit a tad watered down, but no less enjoyable, even without sacrifices to the nature gods that would ensure abundant crops and harvests of foodstuff to last the winter months.

The May Pole, the astrological connection to seeding and planting, the worship of the sun by almost everyone - even the frantic betting of coin, as to what exact time in May would the ice pile up on Lac St Anne's shore to the ever popular precise time of a wrecked car beneath the melting ice on Seymour Arm Lake in BC.

May month has her darker side, unscheduled storms with icy rain, wet heavy snow, force 8 winds and falling temperatures that test a growers sanity and stress level, then quickly levels out with her apology of milder and even hot days and sultry evenings.
May's connection to a religious sect appears first in Egypt, then becomes anchored in importance amongst the Romans.

Mythrias, who is sometimes referred to as male or female, would release the blood of a bull over believers standing under a scaffold on which the bull was killed.

The bulls sacred blood would be collected in urns, and ceremoniously spread upon the ground to be seeded with food crops.

Mithraism succumbed to Christianity as Rome began to falter and crumble. This pagan activity today is still observed, yes, but without, the hassle of finding a sacred bull, we 'bop on down' to the garden centre for a bag of blood meal and distribute it onto a ground to be seeded, or onto the grass as an observance to an ancient shadowed time and place.

Out here at ZONE 3 GROWERS, we are in our second season of a horticultural development that progresses to be a unique facility that will successfully blend history and horticulture.

During the winter weekends and a few good days during the week, we managed to begin and complete an additional greenhouse that represents the accepted style of houses during the late 1940's. Other than the space-age poly-carbonate that serves to represent single diamond glass walls and roof, our greenhouse will be utilized to begin early seedlings, then transplanted to grow on for pacs or pots. Climate control is strictly operated by human-hand, as vents are opened and closed by hand to accomplish the necessary temperatures for the plant health and continued growth. Heating was accomplished this season by using propane as fuel for space heaters, but will endeavor to supply late fall and winter heat by a coal fired boiler.

Conventional power is not a necessity for our greenhouse operation; heating will be by hot water convection, and cooling by cross-crop venting. Our minimal power requirements for small sundry utilities will lend themselves to wind or solar generated 12 volts, then inverted to 110 volts. If all else fails, two heavy gas generators are standing by.

Since the fall, our schedule that included having a wind generator up and charging, has been delayed, but expect to have our own 'power company' soon.

Keeping within our guidelines of history and horticulture, a variety of flowering and fruiting nursery stock will be available by mid June and representative of local plants. Whips and 2nd year transplants will be available in one and two liter containers. I'll keep you informed!
We are open now, Mon - Fri 10am-8 pm; Sat - Sun 10am-6pm. Our selection of perennials are perfectly timed for June to July planting. Our annuals are short, bushy, well rooted and hardened off to withstand cold seasonal conditions.

ZONE 3 GROWERS will be busy well into the summer: Look forward to your visit!
We are located on Rng Rd 182 between Hwy 16 and 15. Click on the 'contact us' button on our web site www.whatsupstan.com for complete directions.

After many requests for the lawn thingy I read on Sunday's What's Up…here it is!!!



Lawns & God

GOD
: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in Canada? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, sir -- just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stoke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You'd better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber," Lord. It's a real stupid movie about…

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.
.
OH…SO- O-O-O-O TRUE!!



SUMMER NOTES 2002
From Summer, 2002 - Notes #11


JUNE - Named for the Goddess of women, marriage and child birth - wife of Jupiter, Great God of Rome.

JULY - Name taken from the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.

AUGUST - Our eighth month and named for Julius Caesar's successor, Augustus Caesar, and who's favourite beverage, was Tomatoe and Clam Juice.

Not in a few generations have we been affected by weather conditions during the last three months, that so severe, will continue to affect both agricultural and horticultural crops.
The residual implications, not yet apparent, will begin to show in late fall and during the spring of 2003.

Our most basic natural plant support requirements are water and soil. Of course air, light and temperature is a basic need, but difficult to alter when maintaining trees, shrubs, perennials and annual growth outdoors.

Extensive drying and wind abrasion on open soils has limited the health of the soil by killing or at best, reducing drastically the content and viability of micro-life. A lack of natural beneficial organisms in the first three inches of the soil, has a dramatic negative reaction to plant growth.

Poor soil means poor plants.

Unless organic material suitable for soil conditioning is added, very soon, and inches of mulch is applied to protect the soil while microbial transfer begins, it will take years before healthy plants will establish and thrive.

Natural nitrogen from above - Contrary to some learned vocal opinions, our recent rains accompanied by electrical stimulus, produces nitrogen.

Here's how it works:


1. Lightening strikes, breaking atmospheric Nitrogen [N2] apart.
2. As air begins to cool, free Nitrogen (N) combines with free Oxygen (O) to form Nitric Oxide (NO).
3. Further cooling adds more Oxygen (O), forming nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
4. Nitrogen Dioxide dissolves in rainwater, (H2O), forming Nitric Acid (HNO3).
5. Nitric Acid loses Hydrogen (H), and becomes Nitrate (NO3).
6. Finally - This form of Nitrogen is then available to plants.

Conclusion: Every bolt of lightening naturally produces Nitrogen fertilizer that helps forest and agricultural crops maintain their greening.

Although early, deep root watering of all your established trees and shrubs could now begin. What available moisture to the root systems and below, was depleted weeks ago and needs to be replenished during the weeks into late October.

Twenty gallons each week, slowly drenched to individual deciduous and evergreens, will ensure an adequate reservoir to lengthen ripening off, which is an important overture to the process of dormancy.

Saskatoons: aka - Amelanchier Canadensis or Service Berry or even Stolonifera - (producing stolons, which are underground stems that anchor vertical shoots or suckers)
Berry producing shrubs and trees, can easily be propagated by seed once the fruit has completely ripened.

Berries from 25 species of saskatoons are small deciduous trees and shrubs native to North America, Europe, and Asia, produce 'perfect' white flowers in terminal clusters, sometimes before leafing out. Fruits are berry-like poms (many seeded fruit of the rose family). Also, berries are indehiscent - or non-splitting fruit, to disperse seeds.

Now!! Macerating is necessary to extract seed: Put 1/2 cup berries to 1 cup water in food processor. Process for 3-5 seconds to relieve the seeds from the berries. Drain. Scatter seed and pulp on wax paper and leave for at least one week to dry. Put in covered container, and keep in fridge for 5-8 months at -5 to -15 C. Treat as seeded early perennials in February/March.

This process can be used for any shrub or tree producing berries.

September 'Info Notes' will help you understand the process and reality of winterizing your plants.

Good Growing,


The Fates
From Sept-Oct, 2002 - Notes #12


SEPTEMBER - Named for the Roman ninth month of the calendar 'septa'.

OCTOBER - Named for the Roman eighth month 'octa'.

This year's onerous introduction to a shift in our comfortable perspective of each month's omni-suitability to our agricultural and horticultural community, was unpredictable but not entirely unprecedented.

Climatologists will advise us that we are entering an unremitting cycle of altering weather patterns.

Cores of ice and rock taken hundreds of feet beneath the northern perma-frost, and bristle cone pines from the rim of the Grand Canyon that show growth rings dating back to the last millennium, indicate climate warming and cooling, has, and very surely will continue forever.

OLD NEWS! How can any one argue the chronological proof of earth's warming and cooling, that has been documented since man could scratch onto rock or paint on cave walls?

Prior to 5000 BC a warming climate followed the retreat of glacial years.
By 2000 BC the climate continues, but
By 1000 BC severe decline to colder weather patterns, that
By 500 BC Greenland becomes inhabitable.

And so it goes to 500 AD, when the North Atlantic climate becomes warmer.

Facts are confusing. I would rather accept the original beliefs spun from four elements:
Earth - Air - Water - Fire.

Management of these elementary life-giving forces when understood and applied, ultimately affect our day to day decisions, opportunities and successes.

Awareness is the essence that knowing the three sisters Fate, have, and continue to impart credibility, as the mythical and legendary 'Daughters of the Night'.

Fate: its not our fault - It is the Fate sisters (or one, two or the three of them), and responsible for what happens to individuals and their aspirations.
CLOTHO ('The Spinner'), LACHESIS ('The Apportioner'), and ATROPOS ('The Inevitable').

Between the 'girls', they spin a length of yarn , which represents the allotted span for each of we mortals, our set-backs and accomplishments.

The Boy Scout motto 'Be Prepared,' is as relevant to adults as to the 'boys of Baden Powel'.

The drought and its affect upon our flora has just begun:
This 2002 is but a prelude to the second major aridity since 1923 that led into the dirty thirties.

Preparations can begin even now, that will forestall damage to your perennial trees, shrubs and ornamentals.

For any grower of outdoor plants, putting to bed is priority one. It's not too late. Whether a few external perennials, or a whole whack of ornamentals, a simple procedure (s) may make the effort worth while, and prove quite evident by mid April into May.

Whether established plants, or recent additives to your collection, watering is imperative:
  • Soak with neutral pH water until overflow.
  • Leave the clinging leaves on the plant stems.
  • Mulch with three or four inches of dry leaves.
  • If strawberries, heuchera, or bergenias, mulch under the leaves to leave the leaves exposed to gather energy to pass down to the root systems for complete dormancy.
  • An organic mulch that covers the entire soil, including the area directly about each plant is worth while to consider.

Limiting the opportunity for the evaporation of moisture from the soil, and less compaction of soil particles that will allow a constancy of oxygen to the plants root zone, is essential.

Choosing the hardiest of our local zones 2, 3, and 4 perennials is rudimentary.

Establish the soils pH using an easily obtained soil test kit. Plants do best when planted in their 'home land' acid to alkaline conditions. Sun, shade and variations of these exposures will be the deciding, or final factor to success.

We have seen and marveled at the fall colouring this fall of our very native and heritage trees and shrubs. Brighten your yard with colour for fall of 2003. A few suggestions that you might consider when shopping for foliar Fall colour follows:
Evergreens / High or Low Bush Cranberries / Echiveria (sempervivum)/ Sedums / Nanking Cherry / Spireas/ Raspberry / Cotoneaster / Amure Maples / Redstem Dogwood / Currents / Golden and Red Elder / Dolgo and Baccata Crab Apples / Schuberts Cherry.

You really must consider the zone 2 & 3 hardy roses ie: Parks and Explorer Series that best become ground covers, shrub or versatile climbers.

Conclusion:
Preparing your plants for fall is as important as the spring duties to begin another successful earth oriented adventure.

We all have many skeins of yarn left to thwart the fates.

Good Growing,


Coming in November/December Info Notes:
  • Early Perennial Seeding - the special conditions for early starters.
  • Wind Power Personified.


Getting Back On Track
From Nov/Dec 2002 Jan 2003 - Notes #13


NOVEMBER: From the latin 'ninth', as it was the ninth (nova) month of the Roman year.

DECEMBER: From the latin 'tenth', as it was the tenth (deca) month of the Roman year.

JANUARY: From the Roman God Janus, represented as a forward-looking face, and on the same head, a rearward looking countenance (janisform). 

To begin, these notes are sadly arriving far later than I ever expected.

The following text reminds me of a local fellow who lives in Seymour Arm B.C. Every summer during the tourist and houseboat season throughout the Shuswap Lakes he sets himself up a tent on 'main street' with signs proclaiming his ability as a 'sooth sayer'. His amazingly successful monetary income is attributed to his 'gift' of not divining the future, but prognosticating the past.

So lets get to it:

November began as October left off. Most garden type fall tasks were completed in ideal weather conditions: Late autumn watering of trees, shrubs and ornamentals continued. Divisions of Hosta, Bleeding Hearts, Day Lilies, and many other five to seven year old established plants were transplanted or discarded.

Continued watering was necessary to ensure shallow rooted perennials would not desiccate. Many growers were able to apply almost any type of organic mulch beneath, or over dormant perennials. Such a task greatly improves future plant development, and lessens stressful spring perennial emergence.

Not only does mulch add fiber (tilth) to the soil, it feeds micro-organisms so vital to healthy root development. Mulch lessens greatly the evaporation of soil moisture. It also suppresses the incidence of soil-born pests like weed seeds, damaging insects and disease. 

December followed the lead on November, with even more out-of-season temperatures. Fields of stubble proved that some crops were able to be harvested. 

Low water in dugouts indicated the severity and necessity of hauling bulk water to cattle. Dusty side roads, and budding trees and shrubs were a contradiction of an Alberta frozen white north.

December 4th, 2002 began as most other days, but ended as a life altering experience. There are no guarantees in life, and we quickly learned how vulnerable we are, when reality is thrust upon our comfortable normality. 

The latter days of December continued to parallel Victoria B.C. temperatures, and on December 23, attained a plus 17c.

Agricultural bulletins assessed our water table to be so low, that a drop of accumulated snow has to exceed 36 inches, to raise the field moisture content to at least that of an average seasonal spring.

January (2003), as the name of the month indicates, 'Janus', is truly a month of re-call and foresight. Recalling last year’s problems and achievements in the (or on) land of growing.

What about this year? Seed and nursery catalogues abound. Many new introductions of annuals for bedding and container growing are being introduced in quantity, due to cross breeding and the advancement of tissue culture.

Was it Stephen King that wrote, "be careful what you wish for"

As I complete these Info Notes, drifting and blowing snow is being added to the churning snow drop that began in mid January. To date we have an excess of accumulated snow to about 15 inches. Natures promise of snow melt that will add welcome additions to the dugouts, creeks, ponds and lakes are assured.

Assured as well, is a very interesting month ahead, and will begin immediately to have timely information, regarding hands-on greenhouse operation skills; seeding, cuttings, and grafting are but a few of the procedures.


Good Growing,



On Track
From Feb 2003 - Notes #14


In this issue:
1. Alternate Energy
2. Favorite Plants
3. Gro Like A Pro - Spring Courses

1. Alternate Power Source:
More than just a novelty, wind power is becoming a viable energy source. For limited use of powered equipment - a wind generator has the ability to maintain a number of 12V batteries, will retain power as long as the wind blows.

Whether you use the 12V power to energize a 12V electrical system, or invert the 12V power from the batteries through an inverter, to operate 110V powered utilities, the significance of wind power is real.

The simple concept of using the strength of the wind to turn a propeller that ultimately charges a battery is not new, but finding a commercial unit that generates a useable amount of power and is easily maintained, with an affordable price tag, is a daunting task. 

The one we put together uses standard low-tech parts, is simple in concept and construction. 

The actual heart of the generator is a 90-dollar rebuilt 1970 to 1980's GMC pickup truck alternator, complete with built in voltage regulator. You can order one from any auto parts dealer. 

The bane of wind-powered generators, is drag. The more moving parts, the less the potential of the unit to produce to the maximum efficiency, because the RPM's are decreased by friction. 

A 30 MPH wind will generate full power. A mild wind will easily maintain 2 or 3 deep cycle batteries to their full charge capacity. This particular generator is capable of producing 720 watts of power [12 volts x 60 amps = 720 watts]. A more practical wattage would be 500. 

The power is stored in a deep cycle battery, and either inverted to 110 volts by an inverter [available at Canadian Tire, or any Radio Shack] or simply using any of the 12 volt appliances made for the RV trade. We will be using the power to run a few pond circulating water pumps, night-lights and a simple electric cash till for our greenhouse business. 

Remember: power in, dictates power out. Figure out the combined amperage of the utilities you will be running at any given time, and these added, will give you a fair idea of what the batteries can handle when fully charged. Our power unit consists of a 1 inch solid shaft that has at one end a 10 inch pulley wheel and at the other end, a one inch welded    'T' that attaches to the shaft and holds the two 36" prop blades. 

The shaft runs through 2 pillow blocks that are bolted to the body of the mill. Beneath the pulley wheel is the alternator that a power line is attached to, then carries down the tower or pipe support that the whole unit is attached. 

Our tower is a 50 foot one once used for wind pumping a well head for cattle, but almost any other support will do, as long as the power cord can turn freely, and not tangle as the power unit turns from the wind. Optimum revs. per minute of the prop, to have continuous power is 120. 

You are welcome to come out and have a look at our generator, as it is still on the ground, but expect to have our tower in the upright position in a matter of weeks. I will endeavor to have some photos on the web site in a week or so.


2. Favorite Plants: 'Yours, Mine, or Theirs'
Like people or animals, plants have personalities, and therefore are chosen for their ingenious qualities. So, what is your favorite phyto?

What qualities do you look for when buying or growing plants in doors or out?

Oft times, I'm asked what plant might be my favorite. Well, a plant not frequently recognized, that is native to Italy and although from a zone 7, can be an interesting low-care plant, during our spring to fall, be a focal point plant in an ornamental garden or singular pot plant for deck, gazebo or portico.

A plant quite unfamiliar to most has a historic value as well as an aesthetic contribution to the world of horticulture. Of all the plants, the ACANTHUS mollis, aka Bears Breech, is by far my favorite. If not equal in recognition of the Oak leaf, the Acanthus is a very close second, when seen depicted in carved marble capitals of Roman architecture. 

Native to Italy, the Acanthus is an easy keeper. Growing in a large ornate container, it adapts well and thrives indoors during the winter months, and when introduced to the landscape from mid spring throughout the summer months until ominous freezing, holds its own with other plants and becomes an attribute to the home outdoor property. 

The Acanthus, can be started by seed, grown on to produce a towering spike on which blue flowers, that when dry, become thorny edged. The foliage is dark green and can attain rhubarb size. These same leaves, are representative of the foliate carvings atop ancient corinthian columns.

As you know, houseplants can also be outdoor plants when conditions moderate, to the extent that the sabbaticals will not suffer frost, wind or sunburn. Other favorites are:

Ficus domestica, or the BENJIMINA, does very well in the environment of its homeland. Native to SE Asia, the Benjimina will thrive in our changing late spring and summer weather variances. 

The next most able to enjoy our Alberta clear skies and long days is the 'Rose of China' aka the HIBISCUS Malva, of the L. Malvaceae. Somewhat sheltered areas like a gazebo, or a lath buffer that cuts the wind and piercing sun is best. The Hibiscus is native to China. Knowing its heritage will infer the conditions it can tolerate without stress or complete denial. 

There is another vast opportunity for you to ponder; containerizing some of our most interesting near native specimans - the SEDUM, L. sedo (to sit). Tender and hardy succulents of the Crassulacea family. Most of these plants originate from north Africa, west Asia and Europe.

During the many years, people from 'afar' have brought with them cuttings and or seed of favored plants. Over a long period many of these succulents have adjusted to our climate and have ingratiated themselves with their spritely growth of interesting leaf shape and color. Flowers are profuse, and the growth habit is upright clustered and spreading.

Some seed varieties of Sedum you might want to try are: Biting Stonecrop, Golden Stonecrop, Kamtschatium, Morganianum, Oreganum, Pachyphylum Dendroideum, Spurium, or even a Telephium. You won't find them all, but when looking on the seed racks, you might be surprised to find most of them. Hot dry conditions, no care plants that perform and resemble their hardy cactii cousins. These very small seeds can be started indoors anytime. Bottom heat, and bright daytime conditions.

For many domestic growers of annuals, the search for the perfect annual plant continues: A plant that can easily tolerate our fickle environment is but one prerequisite. A plant that can easily be seeded indoors during March or April, then transplanted into single containers to grow on until mid, to the first of May, at which time, transplanted into the ornamental garden, or equally imposing , potted into the veggie garden. In full sun to partial shade, the plant will amaze you by becoming 'a living mulch', and a dinner table garnish for any of your favorite salads.

Great color, size and breadth, that can survive acid or alkaline soils in a single season, to go on and on and on until the snows of October and even into November. General watering and fertilizing with triple 20 during the major growing season only increases its ability to perform.

Oh Oh, just about forgot to mention the name of this marvel of the plant kingdom:

Brassico oleracea - of the Acerphato group, Cruciferae, aka:FLOWERING KALE/CABBAGE

Habit: Unusual decorative plant with thick leaves of mixed colors. The leaves can reach 12 to 15 inches across, with rosettes of pink, purple, rose, green, yellows and white. Useful for bedding, borders, and pot plants.

Germination: Try the Osaka and Nagoya - one pack of seed about $2.00. Flowering cabbage/kale should be sown and placed in the refrigerator for 3 days, followed by germination at a temperature of 65 to 70 degrees F. Do not cover seeds with seeding media as light is necessary to germinate, which takes 10-14 days.

Water when soil becomes dry. Fertilize with triple 20 each week. A mulch of bark or compost will retain soil moisture and a constant soil temperature that aids better development of annuals and especially perennials.


3. 'Gro Like a Pro' - Spring courses are here again! 
They will be held east of Chipman at our 'Zone 3 Greenhouses'.
March/April: Grafting/Cuttings. April: Greenhouse Management.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Art of Grafting and 
The Procedure of taking cuttings to root deciduous & evergreen trees & shrubs.
Four hands-on sessions are offered:
Saturday - March 22nd 1-3:30 pm
Tuesday - March 25th' 1-3:30 pm
Saturday - March 29th 1-3:30 pm 
Tuesday - April 1st 1-3:30 pm (no fooling)

Cost: $50.00 per person per session and will include juice/tea/coffee/snacks

Grafting Kits: (to include knife and tape) $21.00 ea. Please indicate with your registration if you would like to purchase a kit. Please indicate if you are right or left handed.

Classes limited to 10 persons
Please indicate a 2nd 'choice' date.

To ensure your participation please remit $50.00 soonest to: 

Zone 3 Growers
PO Box 98 
Chipman AB 
T0B 0W0 

Upon registration you will receive directions to the course site here east of Chipman.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Greenhouse Management and Procedure, to include hands-on:

  • Greenhousing
  • Basics of soils and soilless mix
  • Preparations for seeding, planting and potting
Four hands-on sessions are offered:
Saturday April 5th 11-3:30 pm
Tuesday April 8th 11-3:30 pm
Saturday April 12th 11-3:30 pm
Tuesday April 15th 11-3:30 pm

Cost: $60.00 per person per one session, to include lunch.
Classes limited to 10 persons
Please indicate a 2nd 'choice' date.

To ensure your participation please remit $60.00 soonest to: 

Zone 3 Growers
PO Box 98 
Chipman AB 
T0B 0W0 

Upon registration you will receive directions to the course site here east of Chipman.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Coming in March Info Notes:

  • Companion planting with annuals and perennials.

Good Growing, 



 

BACK

 


 

 

 


 

All images contained herein are the © property of Stan Thompson, What's Up Stan and/or Great Gardens & Gargoyles